Execution of a King
|John 19 (NKJV™)|
|17||And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,|
|18||where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.|
|19||Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.|
|20||Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.|
|21||Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'He said, "I am the King of the Jews."'"|
|22||Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Regicide is the official word used for the execution of a king. Most countries reserve the stiffest of punishments for subjects or assassins who would kill their royalty. John records the execution of the King of kings on a Roman cross outside the city of Jerusalem. But the rest of Scripture reveals that it was more than an execution; it was sacrifice that brought salvation. The next few weeks, we will consider the cross in depth and what it means for the world and for us.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Figures referenced: Josephus; Cicero
Cross references: Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 2:2; Matthew 11:19; Matthew 27:32; Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; Luke 7:34; Luke 22:44; Luke 23:32; Luke 23:33; Luke 23:34; Luke 23:39; Luke 23:42; Luke 23:43; John 1:29; John 4:10; John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:11; John 12:13; John 19:5; Revelation 5:5-6; Revelation 19:16
Keywords: crucifixion, cross, Pilate, King of the Jews
Let's pray together. Lord, we feel that we need to pray before we open the word of God because we simply believe it to be the word of God and that we need the spirit of God to really help us grasp the meaning, the significance, the application of your truth to our lives.
We thank you that we live in the country where we can gather freely and worship you, that the government does not dictate what we believe in or how we worship, that we are free to worship you not only according to the dictates of our heart but more importantly according to the instruction of your word. And that's why we ask your blessing upon the reading, the preaching and the understanding of it in Jesus name, amen.
I grew up like you did probably seeing this everywhere. We live in a culture where the cross is prominent. You drive down the street and you look at a cathedral or a church or go to a cemetery and you will see frequently displayed a cross. Go to jewelry stores, you will see a cross or crosses that you could buy. Look at some people's necks and they will wear a cross.
I grew up looking at a cross every Sunday at church and I didn't want to go to church as a kid. I was dragged there by my parents but I do remember looking at that cross every week. And then coming home and looking down the hallway was also a cross they put on the wall. We live in a culture that has displayed the cross.
At the same time, there is desensitization to the meaning of the cross. If you ask most people, "What's the meaning of this?" They would say, "This is the symbol of Christianity." Others might from a historical perspective say, "This is the symbolic icon of Western civilization."
But again, we have been desensitized to the meaning of the cross. There was a woman who went to a jewelry store in Denver to buy a necklace with a gold cross. She said, "I'd like a gold cross, please." And the man behind the counter said, "Do you want a plain one or do you want one with the little man on it?" Can you imagine even saying that? This guy was so out of touch with the meaning of the cross of Christ and the sacrifice that all he knew is there's two types, a plain one and one with a little man on it.
Why is it that we have been desensitized to the meaning of the cross? Well, a couple of reasons. Number one, because of ministry exposure. We as Christians if we go to church frequently, hear the message of the cross, stories of the crucifixion, we take communion and commemorate the cross, and rightfully so it's the very core of who we are. But when you hear something over and over again for a year, after year, after year, if your heart isn't made right every time you hear it, you can become hardened to what this really means.
There's another reason I think and that's just media exposure, that media depicts frequently bloodshed and gore, even news agencies are more graphic than ever before. So, we can be at home watching bloodshed and suffering and gore while we say, "Pass the potatoes and the gravy." And we just sort of become numb to the kind of suffering that Jesus Christ went through on the cross.
There was a family that lived out in a country on a dirt road. Traffic didn't go by very often and so the kids would play freely in the yard. One day, the youngest son was riding his bicycle across that dirt road. He never looked either direction because cars never were there. But on this day, a car was barreling down the road. And didn't see in time that boy crossing the street and plowed right into him and killed that young boy on the bicycle.
His brother would tell the story years later in these words. "Later, when my father picked up the mangled, twisted bike, I heard him sobbed out loud for the first time in my life. He carried it to the barn and he placed in a spot that we seldom use. Our father's terrible sorrow eased with the passing of time. But for many years, whenever he saw that bike, tears begin streaming down his face.
Since then, I've often prayed, 'Lord, keep the memory of your death as fresh as that to me that every time I partake of your memorial supper, let my heart be a stirred as though you died only yesterday. Never let the communion service becomes a mere formality but also, always a tender and touching experience.'"
I pray that happens today and then the next few weeks as we enter really holy ground of the Gospel of John and that is the crucifixion, the execution, the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
We have been in the Gospel of John a long time. Do you know how long? Two years and three months but we're already in Chapter 19 so there's a light at the end of this tunnel. But it's not a tunnel we want to go through too quickly especially here. We really want to grapple with the meaning of it because we have seen Jesus portrayed in so many different ways in the Gospel of John, right? He said, "I'm the bread of life." He said, "I'm the Light of the World. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Living Water." We have seen so many different aspects of His character.
But here in Chapter 19, it's like we are going back to John Chapter 1 when John the Baptist said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." We're entering into that what John saw as prophetic ministry of Christ as the sin bearer. So we want to look carefully at the cross.
Oswald Chambers once said, "Heaven is interested in the cross, hell is terrified of the cross." The only beings that more or less ignore its meaning are people. We don't want to do that as we go through.
This morning, we're going to begin in verse 17 and go down to verse 22. These are all the verses we're going to cover. There are three things I want us to consider together. His cross and I'll give you some background on crucifixion and the significance of that. Second, His company, there were people next to him when he died. And number three, his coronation as we see her by Pontius Pilate.
Verse 17 we read "And He bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha where they crucified Him and two others with Him, one on either side with Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.' Many of the Jews read this title for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city and it was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Therefore, the chief priest of the Jews said to Pilate, 'Do not write, The King of the Jews. But he said, "I am the King of the Jews." Pilate answered, 'What I have written, I have written.'"
We begin by considering His cross. Crucifixion -- let me back up. Death by crucifixion, that form of execution was invented by the Persians originally because of their superstitious belief that the earth itself was sacred and whenever executing a criminal, you should never execute a person where he is touching the earth. He should be raised up off the earth and killed in that manner.
Now as time went on, other people picked up this form of execution and there I say that the Romans perfected the art. They managed to figure out a way to let the victim linger so long as to have the most excruciating, brutal type of death known to man. Most victims of crucifixion lingered for hours and days that is why a person on a cross was given a foot rest and sometimes a place to sit even not to alleviate pain but to increase the pain because they would last longer in the process.
There were two types of crosses that the Romans used. The first type was a simple vertical stake where the victim was tied or nailed, hands and feet to a single vertical stake called the "crux simplex" the Romans called it, a simple stake. The second type and we think Jesus was crucified in this type was the vertical stake with a crossbeam. The crossbeam was called the "patibulum" and that cross is being weighed between 75 and 100 pounds. That would the portion. And He only carried a portion, that portion of the cross, that one-beam that Jesus would carry on the way to execution.
Now Roman citizens were never crucified, did you know that? If you're a bona fide citizen of the Roman Empire, you couldn't be crucified. It was against the law. Only slaves, conquered people, lower class, insurrectionist, mass murderers, they were crucified.
A Roman statesmen by the name of Cicero said, "To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, to flog him in abomination, to kill him is an active murder, but to crucify him since there is no fitting word that can describe so horrible a deed." And Cicero also said that the very term crucifixion should be removed from the memory of the Roman citizen. So what happened here?
Verse 17 tells us "He, Christ, bearing or carrying His cross, that patibulum went out to a place. It's called the Place of a Skull which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha." Here's how it went down. Once the gavel went down, "Guilty, take them away." Christ was placed in the middle of four soldiers called the quaternion. And the quaternion, that's four soldiers would escort the victim to the place of execution. The soldier in front was the guy who carried the sign, the placard reading the specified crimes of the victim going to be executed.
Typically, the Romans would parade their victims on the longest possible route through town to make a statement, "Crime doesn't pay. Don't mess with the Roman government. This is what might happen to you." They wanted everybody to see it. So they placed the patibulum, that's 75 to 100 pound block of crossbeam wood on Jesus' torn shoulders and had Him walk toward Golgotha. He didn't make it all the way. The other gospel accounts tell us He fell just outside the gates of Jerusalem. Simon of Cyrene, an outsider had to take it the rest of the way.
Keep in mind, Christ has already suffered immensely in the last 24 hours. He had been in the Garden of Gethsemane where the bible says he sweat what? Great drops of blood. Now there is a medical condition called "hematidrosis." That is the tiny capillaries, blood vessels around the sweat glands burst when a person is in extreme emotional distress and the blood oozes through the sweat glands. So it looks like the person is sweating blood, Jesus did. It drains the person of energy.
Then he was arrested, taken before Caiaphas. He went through six trials, we saw. He was beat up by the Sanhedrin. After it was wrapped up, he was taken before Pilate. Pilate had the soldiers scourged Him. We went though that last week. Beat Him up a little bit and now He is bearing a cross on the way toward Golgotha.
Now we noticed that it's a Place of a Skull. In Hebrew, it's called Golgotha. In Greek it's called "Kranion." In Latin, it's called "Calvarium or Calvary" which means the skull. That's where we derived the name of this fellowship. This is skull fellowship. That's what it means. Calvary means the Place of the Skull commemorating the place that Jesus was crucified.
Now, it's probably that the place looked, resembled a skull. I'm going to burst you bubble a little bit. Some of you especially if you've been in churches a long time and you've sang a lot of songs about the cross you probably pictured three crosses on top of a hill. There are lots of crosses or songs about cross and crosses being on the top of the hill and Calvary was a mountain and then Jesus crucified on top of it. He was not. Romans didn't do that.
Typically, Romans would crucify their victim's roadside, not on top of the hill. There was a hill in the background, that's the place of execution. But Josephus, the Jewish historian tells us that the Roman emperors and governors would crucify them opposite the city on the road so everybody on the town could see it happen. So, probably right next to the road on the way going up to the Damascus as you leave the city of Jerusalem, at that place called Golgotha, Jesus was crucified. Now there's something else before we move on to the second portion of this.
Many of the early church commentators in reading Verse 17 and that wood placed on Jesus' shoulder as He is going up to the place to be crucified. It reminds them of a story in the bible and that story they say is a type of what is happening here. So that what is happening here is the anti-type of that story, get the picture? It's the story of Isaac. And it said "His father laid the wood on his shoulders and marched him up to the place where he was going to be a sacrificed."
And so the early church commentators 1,800 years ago and back talked about the fact that John included this so our minds would go back to Isaac taking his son up to be a sacrificed. I find that fascinating because I've always thought that.
In fact, let me take you back. You don't have to turn there but let me read you a portion of Genesis 22, that very story. Here's how it goes. "It came to pass up after these things that God tested Abraham and he said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.'" I've always like that. That he said, "Here I am" is sort of like God didn't know he where -- he knows where he is at. But he had to say, "Over here." "And then he said, 'Take now your son, your only son, Isaac.'" What's wrong with that?
What's wrong with that is he didn't have an only son. He had two sons. He had Ishmael first born, he had Isaac second born but God doesn't recognize Ishmael only the Son of Promise, Isaac. So God says, "Take now your son, your only son." It goes on, "Take now your son, your only son whom you love." Did you know the very first time the word love ever mentioned in the bible is found in this verse? That's significant because what kind of love is it? It's the love of a father for his only begotten son as he is about to take him up to a hill to sacrifice him. And take him to the land of Moriah, mount Moriah in Abraham's day would become in David's day, the threshing floor of Ornan where a temple would be built in Jesus day, the name of that same mountain, the upper elevation was called Golgotha, same place.
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled the donkey, took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son, and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and he arose and he went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day, Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar up.
Now you know the story. How did he goes up to the place on the third day and he raises a knife and an angel of the Lord stops him and says, "Don't do it." Now, I want you to think about that. It's on the third day.
For three days in the mind of Abraham, Isaac was dead to him because God said, "Go take and sacrifice him." So, he did. So for three days, he's living with the notion, "I'm going to kill my son. I'm going to kill my son. My son is going to be dead. He is dead." It was until the third day that his son comes back to life as the angels stops him.
Later on we read this. It's very, very fascinating. Verse 7, "Isaac spoke to Abraham, his father and said, 'My father!' And he said, 'Here I am, my son.'" He likes saying that. "And he said, 'Look, the fire and the wood but where's the lamb for the burnt offering?' And Abraham said, 'My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.'" The way it should be rendered in its original language, God will provide Himself, the lamb. He will be the lamb. Behold the Lamb of God and the Lamb of God is God in human flesh. So, no wonder the Early Church Fathers said, "This is Jesus, bearing this wood in his shoulders is so much like Isaac because one prefigured the other."
Let's go back to the text in John and look at the second thing I want you to notice, not just his cross but his company. It says in the 18th verse, "Where they crucified him, and two others with him, one on either side one and Jesus in the center." All right.
Mark's gospel tells us these two guys were robbers, thieves. I'm talking about the thief on the cross that comes from the Gospel of Mark. Luke calls them simply criminals. John just says, "Two other guys, two others." But John in Chapter 18 calls, "Barabas." Remember Barabas? It gives him the same title Mark gives these two guys. "Barabas was a robber." Mark says these two guys were robbers.
The word means insurrectionist, revolutionaries, freedom fighters. Probably these two criminals were in the same ring as Barabas. Barabas should have been on that cross but the crowd said, "Release Barabas. Crucify Christ." so Jesus is literally dying in the place of Barabas and his two buddies are on either side.
Now the fact that John says, "Jesus was placed in the center and one was on his side and one was on that side." is very important. In those days, it was an act of disgrace to put the worst criminals in the middle, the ring leader if you will, the place Barabas is going to take but it was like saying, "You are disgrace. You are disgusting. You are in the middle of this pack of people we are executing." That's from a human perspective.
I believe John wants us to know that Jesus died in the center of these sinful men because that's how he lived his life. It was predicted by the prophet Isaiah. Let me just read this to you really quick. "And he was numbered with the transgressors and he bore the sin of many and he made intercession for the transgressors."
You see Jesus dying with sinners was a lot like Jesus lifting. He was called the friend of sinners. That was the nickname of Christ. He is the friend of sinners. I love that name. He can be my friend because he's the friend of sinners.
Describes in the first, he said to the disciples, "How come your master eats with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus died and the closest people that died to him were the riffraff because that's who Jesus hung out with, because Jesus believed anybody can be saved. You know that nobody is ever too bad to be saved. The problem is so many people think they're too good. "I don't need that." Oh, yeah you really need that. "Well, I don't need to be forgiven." Oh, men we know you so well. You need to be forgiven a lot. See, most of us think we're too good and that's what keeps us away from Christ so when people admit that they need him.
Speaking of admitting that you need him, there was a promise that Jesus gave to one of those criminals who died with him, John doesn't cover it but Luke does. So, would you turn with me to Luke. Keep a finger in John, keep a marker there and go to the Luke chapter 23, same story different details. The 30 seconds verse of Luke I pick it up. "There were also two other criminals led with him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left."
Verse 39, "Then one of the criminals who were hanged, blasphemed him saying, "If you are the Christ save yourself and us." I know we know the story, but some detail you may not know. If you put all the gospel accounts together, you know we discover, not one of them was mocking Jesus, both of them were mocking Jesus at first. In those early hours, both of them were -- can I just say you've got to be a really a mean guy if on your deathbed, your last breath is mocking another person dying? You got be a low-life. You've got to be really be a mean person, mean spirited.
Both of them were mocking Jesus. But evidently, one of them had a change of heart which we're about to read about. Something changed in those hours. What changed? Well, right before this, Jesus called down. He said, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing." Criminals usually don't say that. I think those guys just think, forgive them? My prayer would be, "Father, nuke them." This is a prayer of forgiveness. Maybe one of those thieves is thinking, "This man can grant forgiveness? Could he forgive me?" Whatever it was, his heart changed.
The other answering rebuked him saying, "Do you not even fear God seeing that you're under the same condemnation and we indeed justly, for we received the due reward of our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." And then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."
Did you hear that promise? Did you notice how he starts it out? He didn't go, "Dude, I really hope this is going to work out for you." "Assuredly, I say to you today, you're going to be with me in paradise." There has never been a more explicit assurance of forgiveness in all of the scripture than what Jesus said to that dying criminal which makes a question. You mean to tell me that that's all it took for that man to be guaranteed heaven? He went to heaven that rotten, filthy, revolutionary insurrectionist murderer guy?
I have a question for you. Was that thief on the cross ever baptized? I don't think so. Did Jesus ever say, "I'm sorry, you can't get to heaven until you first get down, get baptized and get back up there and die and you'll be with me in paradise." Did that guy ever go to church? No. Did he ever do one redempted deed after his moment of repentance? No, he died.
Even his prayer wasn't all that great. So one sentence, "Lord, remember me when you come in your Kingdom." It's all it takes. Jesus said, "You can come in today." There's never been a more graphic illustration of being justified by faith rather than by works. You don't earn it. It's a gift. "Assuredly, I say to you. Today, you will be with me in paradise."
I'll tell you a quick story that happened years ago. I've got a phone call from Mrs. Ruth Gram. That was Billy's wife. She's now in heaven. It was an afternoon here in Albuquerque. I pick up the phone and she said, "Skip, this is Ruth. There's somebody I want you to visit, pay a visit to, call on for me." She told me his name. She was now, "I've got to tell you a little bit about this man. I know his mother real well. His mother and father worked for Fidel Castro. He was the ministry -- finance minister for Castro in Cuba years ago and I met them when Billy and I traveled." But their son lives in Albuquerque. Now she said, "Their son, he's a rough character. He has tried on a few times to assassinate Fidel Castro and he still is in a pact with a group of people to make that promise come true one day. He's an assassin."
"He's also a pretty hefty drug dealer in the area. I'd like you to call on him. Would you do that for me?" It's so hard to say no to sweet southern voice on the other side and say, "Mrs. Gram, I'd be happy to." I went out to dinner with this young man, with this man and he was indeed very rough, very hard, very cold to the gospel. He didn't want to hear anything about Jesus. "I've been there, done that. Whatever, whatever." I tried to bring him here a couple of times. He heard Franklin speak and didn't want to have anything to do with the gospel.
I've got a phone call sometime later and he was in the hospital dying of cancer. I went to go see him. He put up that hard, cold front. A few days later, I went to visit him again. He had maybe 24 hours to live. Maybe he wouldn't live through the day or night. He just had a few short hours to live and I knew it. The doctors knew and he knew it.
I said, "Tony, it's not too late." He goes, "Skip, you don't know what I've done." Well, I had a pretty good idea from Mrs. Gram what he had done. I said, "I want to tell you a story about a man who was hanging next to Jesus. When he died, and he was a freedom fighter, he was revolutionary, he was a murderer. And he said, 'Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom?' It was a simple act of faith, Tony. And Jesus said, 'I say to you, assuredly. Today, you'll be with me in paradise.'" Tony who had been looking away from me, turned his eyes toward me, tears coming down his cheeks. And he said, "That is love. I've never heard of anybody willing to love someone like that so deeply."
Within the next few hours before he died, he made his peace with God and Jesus was able to say that "Tony, today you'll be with me in paradise." That's being justified by an act of faith by the grace of God. Tony didn't earn anything and he knew it. This man didn't deserve anything and that's what I want you to see. There's more here than meets the eye.
I want you to notice that this thief on the cross did three things, really quickly. Number one, he confessed his own guilt. He said to his buddy, "Don't you fear God? We deserve to be here."
He's saying, "I don't deserve heaven. I don't deserve a kingdom. We deserve death. We're getting what we deserve." He confessed his guilt. The second thing I want you to notice is he put his trust in Christ. What did he call Jesus? Lord. He didn't say, "Hey you, whoever you are." He recognized him somehow as being Lord. Second he noticed him as being King. "Remember me when you come into your kingdom." And also, he believed that Jesus once dead would rise again to enjoy the kingdom, all right? "Remember me when you come into your kingdom. I know you're going to die like us but afterwards somehow, you're going to enjoy life after death in the kingdom." So he believed in hope after death. Here's what I want you to see.
This man dying didn't have a whole lot of information about Jesus. He knew his name was Jesus. He knew he was from Nazareth. That's what the sign says and he claimed to forgive people. He heard the crowd say he has saved others. And this guy is thinking, "I'm going to right now put my faith in him." He didn't know much but he acted on what he knew. And here's what I want to say. I meet with some people who go, "You know I haven't investigated enough. I've heard this is a pretty good message but I don't really know if it's for me or not because I need to know a few more things." No, you don't. I guarantee you. You have enough information today to make a decision for Christ. You can find out a lot of stuff later. You have enough information. Act on what you know.
There's something else. He confessed his guilt. He trusted Christ. He made it personal. "Remember me, me when you come into your kingdom." "Assuredly, I say to you. Today, you will be with me again in paradise." I hope you know this but God doesn't have any two for one deals. If you say, "Well I believe I'm going to go to heaven because my parents were strong Christians." You know what? They'll go to heaven and you won't unless you become a believer the same way they did. "Well my grandparents, they took us to church all the time. I think--" They're okay. It's okay for them but not you. It has to be personalized. God has no grandchildren, only children, as many who has received Him, to them He gave the power to become children of God as many as would believe in His name.
You have an opportunity. These two criminals think of the opportunity they had. Both were equally close to Christ. One died and went to heaven. One died and was lost forever.
There's an old saying that says "You make your choices and your choices will turn around and make you." God gives us an opportunity, it is called life. And in that life we can make choices, right choices, wrong choices, the ultimate choice for or against God. That's the deal.
In the Midwest I heard there's a courthouse that is situated interestingly. It is said that when it rains on the courthouse, that raindrops falling on one side of the roof will fall off the roof, drain into the great lakes and be taken eventually to the Atlantic Ocean. Whereas rain falling on the other side of that same roof will drip down on the ground and make its way into the Ohio River then the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.
Two totally different destinations, same roof. What makes the difference? Well, a little wind could make all the difference. We are able in this life to let our drop fall on one side or the other and God allows us lots of time and even in this last moment that man could say, "I want what you can give Lord."
Now, let's close up our text back in John chapter 19 and look at his coronation. We've seen his cross. We've seen his company, his coronation. Verse 19, "Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross and the writing was, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.' Many of the Jews read the title for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city and it was written in Hebrew, that's the language of religion. Greek, that's the language of culture, education. And Latin, that's the language of law and order for the Romans."
"Therefore, the chief priest of the Jews said to Pilate, 'Do not write the king of the Jews but then he said "I am the King of the Jews."' And Pilate answered, 'What I have written, I have written.'"
Picture the scene. Jesus is placed in the middle of this quaternion, this squad of four soldiers. And the guy in front is a guy who carries the sign, the placard that reads the crimes of the criminal that we posted on the cross. There's a problem.
Jesus committed no crime. What is Pilate going to write? Pilate kept saying, "This man is innocent. This man is innocent. I find no fault in him." but he's got to write something. So, I believed his final, his last parting shot of revenge at those Jewish leaders for the blackmail of him making him crucify Christ is, "I know what I'm going to write." This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." they didn't like it.
And so they come to him as we read. Now there's something that is in the Greek tenses that when you understand it, it helps you make sense of it. When the leaders come to him and they say, "Don't write that." The verb is in the imperfect tense. They repeatedly, they kept saying to him over and over again, "Don't say that. Don't say that. Don't write that." So "He said I'm that but don't put that." But when Pilate said, "What I have written, I have written." that's in the perfect tense that means it's done and it will always be done.
So, if I were to put it together and read it to you in an expanded Greek version, it would sound like this. The Jewish leaders kept saying to him over and over again, repeating, "Don't say he's the king of the Jews. Just say he claimed that." And Pilate said, "What I have written, I have written and it will always be written." In effect, Pilate is coronating Christ, calling him what he really is, he is the king of the Jews.
Okay, you remember when Jesus was born, the Magi from the east? Remember the question they asked of Herod and the people in Jerusalem? They said, "Where is he who is to be born the King of the Jews?" Herod didn't like that. He thought he was the king of the Jews. Then when Christ is riding on a donkey into Jerusalem and the crowd shouted out the word, "Hosanna, hosanna, blessed is you who come in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel."
Now Pilate says, "He's the king of the Jews." one final thread to tie altogether. "When Jesus comes again for the second time." Revelation 19. "With all the host of heaven in His glory, it says he's going to wear a name, a sign, a placard across his robe that says, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords."
So here, you have John the Baptist saying, "Behold the lamb of God." Later, you have Pilate saying, "Behold the man." Now you have Pilate saying, "This is the King of the Jews." The lamb is the king. If you receive Christ, you have to take both. You go, "I like the whole thing of Jesus being the king and ruling and reigning. I like that part. That's a cool part. I want that part." Once you take Christ, he's also the one who came first as the lamb to bear your sin away. You've got take both. He used to your savior before you can rule and reign with him.
Okay. You remember in Revelation? Just real quick, Revelation 5, you don't have to turn there. John is in heaven and he sees his vision and people cry out because everybody says, "Who's worthy to take that scroll and unloose the seals?" And somebody says, "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has prevailed. Behold the Lion of the Tribe of Judah." So John turns around to look at the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. What does he see? A lamb as though it had been slain. He's looking for the Messianic lion, the king and he sees a lamb because the lamb is the King and the King is the Lamb.
There was an officer in Northern England, patrolling his bit one night and he hears a whimpering and he finds a boy crying on the steps of a building, and he goes up to the boy. He says, "Little boy, why are you crying?" because after all it is England. And the little boy said, "Take me home." The officer said, "All right Charlie, I'd like to. Where is home?" Oh, the boy couldn't remember where home was. He just kept crying, "Take me home. Take me home."
So the officer started naming streets in town, street after street. The boy had no recollection what street he lived on. The officer started naming shops and businesses and hotels and anything he could think of. The boy had no recollection. Finally, the officer recalled that there was a large cathedral in the middle of that town. He took the boy out in the street so he could see in the distance and he says -- pointed up to the stipple on the cross. And he said, "Do you live anywhere near that?"
The little boy smiled big and he said, "Yes, yes. Take me to the cross. I can find my way home from there." That's true of all of us. When you come to the cross of Christ, you're home. You've come to the Saviour. He's the one you can wash away your sin. He's the one who can say to you, "Today, you'll be with me in paradise." And he will also be the one who will take you into eternal habitation, eternal home, eternal glory and you rule and reign with him. Until he comes to rule and reign, we are indeed a cross culture.
Father, we glory in that. We're not ashamed of the cross. It is your glory. It is our glory. As Jesus himself said approaching the cross, "Father glorify me and glorify yourself. At the time of glory had come, your greatest glory, your greatest accomplishment was to be able to say forgive them and to be able to say, "Assuredly I say to you. Today, you will be with me in paradise." You can grant that kind of assurance because of your sacrifice in our place on that cross. I pray we'll never lose the deep impact to that. Our hearts would always be soft and tender about that in Jesus name, amen.